VBSR Webinar: Where Our Food Grows – Farmers’ & Producers’ Path to Recovery
Before COVID-19, Vermont’s agricultural sector was simultaneously at the heart of Vermont’s cultural & economic identity and facing a crisis brought on by global market forces, demographic shifts away from rural communities, and looming effects of climate change. Now in the middle of a pandemic that began with widespread supply chain and market disruptions, Vermonters are adjusting to new challenges and rethinking Vermont’s local food economy during the state’s recovery.
This webinar is the first of a two-part webinar series on how Vermont’s food systems are adapting to and recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, brought to you by VBSR and High Meadows Fund. This webinar will focus on how food producers in Vermont are responding to COVID-related challenges, including supply chain disruptions, shifting wholesale markets, and workflow adjustments to prevent virus transmission. We’ll hear about what resources are available for producers, from the state and from business advisors, and we’ll hear what Vermont’s farmers still need as they prepare for long-term recovery and aim to retain customers who have turned to local producers during the past 4 months. After we hear from our panelists, we’ll have an interactive Q&A session with our panelists, moderated by Gaye Symington of High Meadows Fund, discussing what this recovery will mean for Vermont’s food system and economy in the months and years to come.
Understanding Vermont’s Agricultural Recovery from COVID-19 is a two-part webinar series, brought to you by VBSR and High Meadows Fund, which will explore how leaders in Vermont’s food systems are recovering, adapting, and building resilience, from farmers to restaurants to nonprofit leaders. The first webinar will focus on the food produced in Vermont. Producers, farm business advisors, and the Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets will talk about how producers have adjusted to shifting markets, and what they need to survive and retain customers who have turned to local producers during the past 4 months. In the second webinar, we’ll shift to retailers and purchasers from around the state in farmer’s markets, grocery stores, and restaurants to learn how national and regional market disruptions are affecting what’s on our shelves and our plates, whether and how customers in the region now think differently about where their food comes from, and whether those shifts will last beyond the recovery phase of the pandemic.
Meet our presenters:
Farm Business Director, Intervale Center
Sam brings a passion for farming and food systems to his work at the Intervale. He grew up in Southern Vermont, went to UVM, and received a MBA in Sustainability from Antioch New England. He has worked as both a livestock and vegetable farmer, and been involved in the Vermont agricultural community for over 20 years. He enjoys working with farmers and value-added food producers throughout Vermont to achieve their goals for their farms and businesses.
CEO, Ceres Greens
Jacob Isham is an eighth generation Vermont Farmer, graduate of Norwich University with both undergraduate and graduate degrees, medically retired U.S. Army officer, and graduate of the Veterans to Farmers program for controlled environmental agriculture and hydroponics.
Co-owner, Vermont Family Farms
Mark Curran co-founded Black River Produce In 1978 and was the active CEO and an early promoter of local food production. More recently he continues to work on the Ag economy with a focus on meat production. The goal of Vermont Family Farms is to keep Vermont’s working landscape productive and viable for the farmer.
Agricultural Development Division Director, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets
Abbey Willard is the Director of the Agriculture Development Division at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. She has been with the VT Agency of Agriculture supporting business development and market access opportunities for Vermont agriculture and food businesses since 2011. Prior to this work, she spent 10 years developing conservation and agricultural technical assistance programs with Vermont Conservation Districts. Abbey has a Soils & Environmental Science Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s of Science in Conservation Biology. She is also a native Vermonter and lives in Hinesburg.
Webinar and Q&A facilitated by:
President, High Meadows Fund
Gaye Symington is President of the High Meadows Fund, a philanthropy that promotes vibrant communities and a healthy natural environment while encouraging long term economic vitality in Vermont. Prior to joining High Meadows in 2009, Gaye served in the Vermont House for 12 years, four of them as Speaker of the Vermont House, working to establish the clean energy development fund, greenhouse gas reduction goals and other policies to promote clean and efficient energy use, groundwater protection, and affordable housing in village centers. She has also worked for the Intervale Center in Burlington, Ben and Jerry’s Homemade Inc., and the National Gardening Association in Burlington.
This webinar will be held via Zoom, and registration is required.
Details on how to join this webinar at the scheduled time via your computer or by phone will be sent to you via email confirmation upon registering for this webinar.
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